The universal Spirit of Christ—the light and life of the world—is the conscience of all people. This “still small voice” serves as an internal moral GPS or compass and provides light and discernment, enabling us to know right from wrong. Such knowledge invites accountability in harmony with the Law of Justice. We will be judged by the light and law we are given.
Parable of Stolen Candy
Once there was a boy who visited a small market with a friend. When the two boys eyed the candy display, one boy suggested stealing a candy bar.
“Watch me,” he said. “I’ve done this before—it’s easy and we won’t be caught.” He then took a popular candy bar, “Three Musketeers”, put it stealthily in his pant pocket and walked casually out of the store.
The other boy felt a piercing pang of conscience. He knew that this was wrong and did not want to follow the example of his friend, for fear of violating a moral law: Thou Shalt Not Steal. Taking what is not rightfully yours is wrong. Somehow, such acts of wrong-doing — even this small, seemingly inconsequential act — inevitably harm all of humanity.
While he didn’t take the candy, he did walk out of the store with his friend who had stolen the candy, thus he felt he was aiding and abetting a crime and that his silence could be construed as theft—a clear violation of both conscience and law.
Hence, the motto of the three musketeers—“all for one and one for all”—works both ways: either for credit or for condemnation.
Spirit of Christ: Conscience of All
The light that gives all who are born into life on earth the discernment between good and evil, right and wrong, truth and error, makes us accountable for our thoughts and actions. Even so, the conscience is educated like the mind, sharpened like a fine blade. Or, if the mind is dulled from concessions, compromises, rationalizations and justification, the soul becomes barnacled like an old ship, encrusted with traditions, social norms, personal beliefs, prejudices, and judgments that form a fog so dense that even the light of Christ can’t penetrate it.
Some people turn off the conscience like they do with cruise control or autopilot, preferring to drive manually and mentally—from habit, training, education or tradition. Conscience is seen as an inconvenience when expedience and experience rule. Even the laser beam of conscience can’t cut through the lead of a dead soul encumbered by sin. Even when the dull soul is in the presence of pure light, it may not recognize it; in fact, it may see imperfection, even plainness, and thus dismiss the light. Evildoers prefer to turn off the lights and operate in the dark, wherein they suppose that they cannot see, be seen or detected. They love the secrecy of night and the works of darkness, the style of the neon nightlife and money of commerce. Often the spirit in them, if it has any influence, is relegated to Sunday, briefly, to short sermons that can be dissected like melons and the seeds spit out. They love the counterfeit capes and cloaks, masks and mascara.
The conscience of men and women can certainly be muted, manipulated, even canceled with the practice of moral relativism, dulled by sin, dimmed with neglect with the denial of absolute truth, blinded by mists of darkness, and reinforced by selected social circles and voices and media and music. We deny the Holy Ghost by degree. We turn away from light to venture into the darkness. We partake of Forbidden Fruit to spice up the daily diet. We cancel the spirit like a service, like Sirius satellite radio or Netflix, or cable or satellite television, opting instead for the movie package, and the premium channels of our choice. Nowhere on the TV menu is the Spirit channel. That has been crowded out, drowned in the din of sin. Who wants to listen to the still small voice when you can hear the shrill and feel the thrill of all voices (community choir) and choose from1,000 channels and artists?
Moreover, you can manipulate the conscience with con-science, using it to validate beliefs and behaviors, to justify decisions, to rationalize choices.
Opt-In or Opt-Out
We have the choice to opt-in or opt-out to the channel of conscience, the frequency of the spirit, to cancel at any time—no long-term or monthly contract required. Pay as you go. Free delivery. It’s the ultimate in programming, better than any cable, satellite, internet, hi-fi or wi-fi package. Still, many opt-out, rather than be bothered with reminders to heed promptings or messages from a higher source. They are then “free” to become ensnared and enslaved, in bondage to sin and addiction.
This Is Your Conscience Speaking
I suppose the voice of another person (like your mother or your wife) might serve as a conscience—for me and you. Indeed, every voice, any voice, shouted or whispered at the right time in the right way with the right moral message serves as a voice of conscience, reminding us of right and wrong, duty and honor, responsibility and accountability. At times, we want to imagine that nothing matters: choices have no consequences. We are all dispensable and disposable like diapers. We are “free” to choose, and in our moral casualness, we might suppose that “freedom” lies in the absence of restraint. Why deny what pleases and pleasures us? Who are you to tell me to stop what I am now doing or start down a new path?
The converse of walking a spiritual path with practical feet is to crawl a temporal or financial path with impractical, dysfunctional feet. One spiritual path leads to where we most desire in our hearts to go; the temporal path leads to where our heads or the minds or wills of others want to take us.
Extrapolated to eternity, the difference in the two paths is infinite: literally worlds (kingdoms) apart—not slight degrees of difference, but orders of magnitude beyond mortal comprehension. Hence, it matters to whom we list and to what voices we listen and obey. I believe that the Spirit of Christ, implanted into the minds and hearts of all people, often speaks through the conscience. The voice of conscience informs judgment and distinguishes between right and wrong, irrespective of law and tradition.
I’m not so baffled by concepts of heaven and hell; we see those judgments rendered here and now—in homes and schools and workplaces—as people self-select where they feel most comfortable. We merely need to project these vectors—these directions, and polar-opposite conditions—forward, simply draw a line that projects our current path into the future, to have a semblance of our final destination or condition.
The basic premise of theology is that we are on a path of eternal progression. And that afterlife picks up where we leave off here in this life. Even God’s grace and the hoped-for resurrection beyond the grave can’t glorify and dignify a life ill-lived on earth. Nor can it retrieve a love or marriage long lost here. Hence, eternal glory and life and love, we are reminded in scripture, are reserved for those who live worthy of them, here and now and hereafter.
In our all-inclusive, politically correct world of moral relativism, we prefer to think that walking “whatever” path we choose (or is chosen for us) with our own two feet (or with the aid of transportation provided by parents and employers) is good enough.
If it’s the wrong path, going faster (even at supersonic or light speed) with technology-enhanced feet will only get us lost faster. Haste, alas, often makes waste. Wisdom is listening and harkening to the Voice of Conscience, the spirit of Christ.